“Music is Rhythm, Rhythm is Life.” This maxim, uttered by former Motown drummer Bill “Sticks” Nicks to my class and me a few years back, opens a portal to what being human involves. Most accounts of what it means to be human make cognitive capacities, language and reflective thinking, the be-all and end-all of human distinction. But think about it: how many animals do you know who beat rhythm for aesthetic enjoyment and social communion?
In this essay I reflect upon moments from musical experiences, primarily from blues music, to illustrate the place of the spontaneous gesture and ensemble improvisation in interaction, in and out of the music.
Keywords: Musical experiences; gesture; improvisation